What do we expect from Lance Armstrong now that the evidence he took performance-enhancing drugs has piled higher than any mountain his bicycle ever climbed in the French Alps?
What is the endgame after the federal investigation and media inquiries, like the one that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes” in which the cyclist’s former U.S. Postal Service teammate claimed he doped?
According to the CBS report, three associates, including Tyler Hamilton and close friend George Hincapie, accused Armstrong of using endurance-boosting EPO and testosterone and blood doping before a grand jury. All of those practices are banned.
Damning evidence. What now?
Do we strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles? Do we send him to jail?
Are we waiting for an “OK, guys, you got me” moment, like we got from Marion Jones and Alex Rodriguez?
We shouldn’t. Armstrong has too much invested in his I-never-cheated lie, if that’s what it is.
Forget all the years he has spent vehemently denying his use of PED’s. That efort in itself could be enough to keep Armstrong peddling his story until the bitter end.
But there’s much more. Consider the legacy he would surrender. A cancer survivor comes back from a dire diagnosis to become the world’s most dominant athlete for almost a decade, all the while inspiring a generation to Livestrong.
All that’s up in smoke if he cheated.
Oh and there’s this: He has never failed a drug test, although the “60 Minutes” report, through Hamilton, implicated the International Cycling Union in the cover-up of a positive test in 2001.
Armstrong points to his perfect record like he did in this Tweet when news of the “60 Minutes” report broke: “20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out if competition. Never failed a test. I rest my case.”
Unlike baseball during the steroid era, cycling had an official testing policy throughout Armstrong’s run. So whether he passed every test or had conspirators, Armstrong is officially clean, no matter what his teammates say.
That’s not to suggest the efforts to prove Armstrong’s guilt are misguided.
Any attempt to expose a cheater is worthy.
But what is the ultimate goal as it relates to cycling or sports in general?
Maybe it’s to root out the organizatuional hypocrisy that helped Armstrong skirt the rules, if that’s what happened.
That would be a good start.
But unless Armstrong -- or his accusers, if they’re the ones lying -- suddenly grows a conscience, the subject of his guilt forever will be a he said-he said proposition.
Timothy R. Wolfrum, Herald sports editor, can be reached at 745-7052.